Interview With Jeff Scott Soto
“LOST IN TRANSLATION” is Jeff Scott Soto?s newest effort. It?s his third solo album in a very long career and I?ve got the chance to ask him questions about the new album and about his future plans amongst other things.
Interview By Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Frontiers Records for the promo pictures.
Thanks to Stefan at Atenzia records for the help with the interview.
You have been in the business for a really long time (since ’84) and you?ve had a long career. What got you started in the first place and would you please tell those out there who don?t know you are a bit about yourself?
Well, thanks to the age of cyberspace, I can really only suggest to get a full cap on what the last 20 years has done for me, especially the last 5 or so, it?d be best to visit & explore my site, www.jeffscottsoto.com, there?s so much that really personifies who I am I wouldn?t know where to start, but more so, I can?t stand talking about myself, it?s best the curious individual get their own profile.
In the info provided, it says that you?re able to sing everything from melodic hard rock, heavy metal, funk and R?n?B – what is your response to that?
I guess it?s true; all those influences make up everything I?ve combined & experimented with in my brand of hard rock music. I grew up with so many different loves of music; it really moulded itself into me finding what I do & how I do it.
Do you have any role models or idols that you look up to music wise?
We all do, Prince, Freddie Mercury, Steve Perry, Sam Cooke & Terence Trent D?Arby were my contemporary heroes. There are so many musical roots involved it would be difficult to pinpoint just 1. The ones who really gave me my tenacity were the ones who didn?t stay within the boundaries of what people expected of them. I try to push the envelope as much as possible.
Why has it taken so long between the release of your solo albums?
I never really cared to do solo albums, I was always a ?band member? kind of guy who liked to be part of the creation instead of the ringleader. Through my years, I?ve found the glories of doing things entirely my way as well as realised I can create the whole painting successfully on my own, which made me feel maybe this is time for me to jump out of my shell a bit.
If you look back on “PRISM” and “LOVE PARADE” today, what do you think of them now?
LP was more of an experiment, a sort of ?cry of escape? from the stranglehold of being type cast as a ?metal singer?. It was an expression of my roots & what I was listening to at the time & I still enjoy it today. Prism was my sort of return to making music regularly again, but the material was mostly older things I had written & never released. Both albums are snapshots of my life & where I was at, all albums are exactly that.
How did the media greet those albums?
LP was pretty much banished by most?remember, this was ?94, only 10 years after my debut as a shouter for Malmsteen & countless others. The expectation was a metal album & I turned in the exact opposite. Prism was unexpectedly received very well, had I known people were ready for me to go solo; I would not have waited so long.
Do you think you have developed music wise through the years? If so, how have you developed?
I sure hope so! Anyone who doesn?t find evolvement through years of recording & writing should stop doing it immediately. It?s a natural progression of creating within the environment of what inspires & surrounds you. Musically, I just stopped ?thinking? about what people want & just doing it.
On your EP “BELIEVE IN ME”, which was released this summer, you chose to put only one faster song with the other 4 songs, how come?
I used all the songs for LITT & had no more for the EP idea Frontiers had. They asked me for additional songs which I found in past recordings with projects that never saw the light of day. They happened to be softer than the new album, but that made it fun in reading all the responses that LITT would be another soft album?WRONG!
How did you get in touch with Neal Schon from Journey? You and Neal have started Soul SirkUS together; can you tell us something about that?
Neal found me after his Planet US band split with Sammy Hagar & Michael Anthony returning to Van Halen. He had never heard of me but after we were introduced & worked the 1st week together, he could think of no one else for this band. Neal saw Marco playing the same night we met & had the whole band completed in his head that evening. We are truly brothers in this band & I love the freedom he gives me to create with him instead of for him. The album will be out before the end of the year, it will be distributed through Warner Music.
Who has written the music and lyrics on your last album “LOST IN TRANSLATION”? How long did it take to write the album?
I started in Dec. 2003, but had to rush to get it finished once I started working with Neal Schon on the new band, Soul SirkUS. I was doing double duties, creating 2 completely different albums simultaneously. LITT was rushed but came out amazing in my eyes?one of my proudest moments on record.
Are the lyrics about any special subject or anything else in particular?
I usually draw from things I see around me, see through friends or family & even in my life. They?re not rewriting lyrical history, but I do try to put a quality behind even the simplest subjects.
How long did it take to record the album and which studio have you used?
I did most of it in my home studio & it was mixed in Boston by my long-time friend & engineer, John Ellis. The whole thing was done within 5 weeks, written, mixed & mastered.
Besides the lead vocals you also play both bass and keyboard, what do you think you do best of those three things?
Definitely keyboards but I don?t ever claim to be any good! I just love playing, especially contributing, to my own songs as much as possible. Sometimes it is best I use people who know their craft better than I, but it?s always more fun if I can get a lot done on my own, very gratifying.
How is it to produce your own album compared to hire a producer?
I don?t know, I haven?t really worked with too many & the ones I have pretty much just sit there & let me do everything I want while they get paid. I have a good grip on what I feel is best for me & the songs without needing someone to come & in tell me. It?s not so much control as it is being complete.
I think the cover is very stylish and simple (that was meant in good way) and it really captures the music, who came up with that cover?
When doing the photo session, I started getting creative with poses & ideas. With all the controversy of last years? ?Passion Of The Christ?, I thought I would go for the ?Christ? pose as it always draws attention both positively & negatively. The graphics were then added by my graphic artist & long-time collaborator, Richard Mace, & he really brought out the edge in it.
Do you have any favourite song on the album? If so which one and why?
I love the edgier ones like Doin? Time & On My Own as well as Drowning.
Are you satisfied with the album or do you feel you should have done anything different?
Love it, wouldn?t change a thing?ok, maybe a few!
How does the co-operation with your record label work do you think?
They?re great with me; they give me complete freedom & trust without butting in. I?m sure there are aspects they would love to have me do more of but the balance of the album has to go for both of us as I won?t be anyone?s puppet anymore. I know I?m giving them some of what they expect of me as well I know they let me give what I expect of myself.
Have you read any reviews on the album yet? How has the press accepted the album?
So far, it?s been very receptive! As an artist, you always sit back & wait for the ride to be over when people start saying ?now he?s lost it!?. But luckily, it?s only got better & stronger in recognition. I couldn?t be happier, it?s as I?m on part of my career right now.
The info note describes your music as melodic hard rock and I agree with that, how would you describe your music?
It is a general description but I guess it fits the overall direction. I hate categories; I just want it to be ?good music?.
Who are the members in your band at the moment?
Howie Simon ? guitar, Gary Schutt ? bass/sometimes guitar & Dave Dzialak ? drums. Great band, strong line up & with these guys, I can pull ANYTHING off live!
You have recently returned from touring on the album, how did that go and where did you do your best show?
I?m still touring, in the middle actually! It?s going great, getting better every night, both show & attendance. As I said, I?m having the time of my life.
Did you play any of the new songs for the fans when you where out on the road?
Yes, playing quite a few yet keeping within the expectations of what people want. The show has got longer because of this, it?s so hard to know what to play live but some things naturally work better than others.
You have also played in Europe but why didn?t you do any shows in Scandinavia?
We?re only visiting countries that are showing interest or have come to me with guarantees to make it all happen. It?s VERY expensive putting a band on the road & I can only go where I know at least expenses will be met. Most of the tour is financed by me & at the end of the day, I have to make sure I don?t go home poor or have to sell my house just play a few shows!
Are you going to continue doing solo albums?
Absolutely, I?m a roll on now!
Are there any current plans on when the next solo album is going to be released?
No, not yet. I have Soul SirkUS to tend to next. Who knows what or how much of 2005 will be consumed by that alone?
Are you going to tour more on this album?
Looking to book Japan next in January & then it?s time for the SirkUS to hit the road.
How many bands/project are you involved in right now?
Just the 2, JSS & Soul SirkUS.
Can you mention a few bands/projects you been involved in through the years?
Far too many to even make mention of. The important ones are covered here in this interview; the rest could easily be sought on my site.
Which one of your albums is your favourite one?
I would have to say the Talisman ? Humanimal album we did in 1994. I listen to it today & think ?how the hell did we come with that stuff?? I love that album as much today as I did 10 years ago.
If I say that you are a living legend and your voice sounds just as strong as ever, how do you comment that?
Thank you so much!! I honestly don?t know, I?m just doing what I do with what I have. There?s no trick or trade, I?m just having a great time creating now more than ever.
What is up with Talisman? Does the band still lives or is it put on hold?
Yes, Talisman for Marcel Jacob & I is like KISS for Gene & Paul, it?ll always be home & we?ll always have this band active in someway.
How are your relations towards my country Sweden with thought of Talisman I mean?
It?s a 2nd home for my main home, Sweden & Talisman!
Do you have any contact with Marcel Jacob?
Absolutely, it?s not as frequent as when we?re active but Marcel is my brother separated at birth, we always keep within an arm?s reach of each other.
Would you like to say anything to the readers of metal-rules.com?
Keep it alive, the future of OUR music is up to us, downloading only hurts everyone, download to check it out, and then support the scene; we?ll keep it churning as long as you keep it burning!
More info about Jeff: